On Buying a Camera

Steph on our street.

When I was in fourth grade, I’d tag along with my older brother and sister to the dark room at JFK high school, where they would develop B&W photos for the yearbook. Even before that, I had bought an Instamatic at a Goodwill store, and use the cartridge film for B&W photography of my Hot Wheels having horrible accidents.

Before too long, I was doing pinhole cameras, and then B&W with my dad’s failing 35 mm camera. (He had upgraded to a Pentax K1000, but I wasn’t allowed to use that.) I developed B&W images of train tracks, cats, nice cars, etc. I even learned to mount them.

In college, not long before I was married, I splurged on a Nikon N2000 35 mm (1986 or so), and it lasted about 7 years before the shutter was cutting images in half. It wasn’t worth repairing, and we changed to a searies of Point and Shoots for for the last 13 years or so.

For many years, I’ve preferred the point and shoots to an SLR, because it’s easy to carry and use more. Lately, however, we’ve been doing hundreds of shots on the boat and around London, and the lack of image quality has begin to bother me. Also, over a year ago my young daughter started a B&W class, and we bought her a used Canon EOS 1000 to shoot 35 mm with, and I was bit jealous. She’s done a great job with the camera for over a year. Two weeks ago we bought her an Olympus 850SW as her first digital camera:

Eve with Olympus

Buying a digital SLR is no easy business. Canon or Nikon? Live view or not? HD movies? Vibration Reduction or Image Stabilization? Weather-sealed Pentax? VR or regular lenses? G10 instead of SLR? What about a Lumix instead?

Yeah, it was pretty headache producing. In the end, I didn’t like the feel of the Canon’s as much as the Nikons (or maybe it was tradition). I wanted two lenses to start with that wouldn’t go immediately out of date. Instead, I wanted a cheaper body but better lenses that I could use on a better body in the future.

So, we ended up with a Nikon D60 and an 18-55 mm VR lens, and a 55-200 VR lens. The lenses aren’t terribly compatible with the F series Nikons, but they’re fine for the D series, and I didn’t want to spring for the D90 at this point:

Nikon D60

Since we’ve picked it up this morning, and charged the battery, I’ve actually taken fewer pictures than my wife and son. My wife took about 65 shots in Hampstead Heath, and my son made his first stop motion LEGO movies tonight using the integrated stop motion software and wireless remote we picked up for it. My wife is thinking about walking the Heath once a week with the camera to photography the wildlife, and both of us plan to take photography courses in London for wildlife and travel photography.


Fun stuff. Deep roots. I was particularly happy to see my son make his movies. I’ll see if I can post his first efforts online.

Waling out of Heath.

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